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Hanoi Departure Day
Make sure you have bought all the souvenirs you want, because you can depart for the airport as your flight requires. Your transfer driver will pick you up 3 hours before your flight and take you directly to the airport.
Bai Tuu Long Bay - Hanoi
We cruise further this morning after breakfast and start to head back towards the Bai Chai port where will transfer back to Hanoi for the evening in time to clean up and enjoy a nice dinner in the old quarter.
Bai Tuu Long Bay
This morning you will be picked up to go to Halong Bay between 8am and 8.30am. Please remember your passport. After 4 hours of the most hectic driving you may have encountered to date, you will find yourself in a serene and tranquil bay, sailing through limestone karst cliff faces on your luxury junk boat. You will forget about the traffic on highway 1, the horns and hawkers. We explore the caves, kayak and swim. We will dine on fresh seafood and hear tales of the warships from China being attacked from within nature’s maze. Recently voted as of the 7 natural wonders, this is deservedly the busiest tourist attraction in the country. Although we will travel through Halong Bay on our boat, we will drop anchor in a lesser known area called Bai Tuu Long Bay. This area is equally as beautiful as Halong but has nowhere near the number of tourists as the rest of the bay.
Our flight delivers us to Hanoi, where you can get a first glimpse at the capital, the french colonial buildings and the crazy traffic of the capital.
You arrive into Hanoi and transfer to your hotel, I have listed things are things you can spend your time doing. Line with thousands of Vietnamese to see the father of Vietnamese reunification, get lost in the old quarter, visit The Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton) or see the famous Temple of Literature.
We visit the Khe Xanh American Army base in the morning, loading back into our jeeps. We head down towards the Vinh Moc Tunnels, passing by hamburger hill and some of Vietnamese lesser known beaches. The Vinh Moc Tunnels is an extensive underground network of tunnels that the Vietnamese lived in for up to 6 months at a time. Some of the tunnels included homes, hospitals, kitchens and were booby trapped making them a dangerous place for allied forces. We will also pass through the DMZ as outlined by the 1954 Geneva Conventions before we reach Dong Hoi.
We start early this morning and divide into two 1960's jeeps that were left in Vietnam from the war. We head inland towards the Ho Chi Minh Trail along dramatic mountain scenery, traditional villages, stopping at a waterfall for a swim and enjoying a basic lunch. We will fill coolers with some beers, soft drinks and water so that we can enjoy the ride with the top down and the sun on us - Vietnam as few others ever get to see it. We arrive in the late evening to Khe Xanh. The town was infamous during the war as having the most dangerous air base for soldiers to be based at. With the Ho Chi Minh Trail crawling through the mountains around it, then soldiers dug into their bunkers in a life of peril. The remnants of the base still exist today with an extensive bunker network and a mess building still standing. The base is littered with rockets and remnants, but is cleared and safe from Unexploded Ordinance. A basic Vietnamese style dinner and lunch are provided today.
Hue is perhaps the most fascinating of Vietnam’s towns. Most people do not experience Vietnam in the way that you will over the next few days. You will explore the agriculture, the countryside, the war history, the imperial history and the buddhist culture. To be able to move through the narrow lanes and take the road less known, we will exlore Hue by Cyclo and for those who are feeling adventurous we have drivers you can cling to on the back of their motorbike. If you are not comfortable on a motorbike we have a vehicle ready for you for the longer journeys here. Some of the things we will experience throughout our time here include The Imperial Citadel and Forbidden Purple City, the Thien Muc Pagoda, the Imperial Tombs and we will have a delicious lunch in a rural nunnery being served by Buddhist nuns.
Drive to Hue
We will spend the day stopping off at various points throughout the countryside. Some of the things we will see include:
Lang Co Beach,
Hai Van Pass (one of the most strategic points during the Vietnam War) and Marble Mountain (a dramatic mountain adorned with temples, boasting stunning caves that decorated with Buddhist imagery and relics.
Hoi An Arrival Day
This is the perfect spot to start an adventure in Vietnam. Filled with delicious food, erupting with cheap shopping, close to the beach and flat enough to cycle around easily. Hoi An, previously known as Faifo, was a trading port for the Japanese, Chinese, Dutch and Indians from the 15th to 17th Century. The town is one of very few this far north that escaped unscarred by the war, so the architecture in unique. The Old Town is UNESCO world Heritage Listed and is one of the few places in the country to find relief from motorised traffic.
Hoi An Cooking Class
The French influence from the Indochina period in this town has been preserved in the form of culinary delights, the likes of which are unsurpassed. This is a great place to hire a bicycle for short and flat ride (6km) to the beach where you can dine on fresh seafood andn enjoy the famous Vietnamese coastline. I have included a cooking class at Ms Vy's Marketplace Restaurant - Ms Vy is the most successful chef in the Central Vietnamese Region... this restaurant was created to show people who are unfamiliar with Vietnamese cuisine what is going into their food. There are active demonstrations throughout the entire restaurant - you will be in a classroom upstairs away from diners and the hustle and bustle of the restaurant.
Hoi An Free Day
If you like to shop, then this is the best place in Vietnam for prices and it carries western sizes. In Hue and Hoi An you will not find the same concentration of products. Many people like to get clothes tailor made in this town.... so bring along any suit designs or put together an ensemble once you have seen the fabrics available. Summer dresses and winter jackets are also very popular and offer good savings The town has also become one of the best areas to source buffalo leather products - jackets, wallets and other leather goods. Buffalo leather is typically thicker than cow leather and takes longer to wear down.
Enjoy your free day shopping, cycle to the beach or ask your guide to help organize an activity for you, either in Hoi An or Danang.